Quill and Quire


« Back to

Spring preview 2015: short fiction & poetry


Mark Anthony Jarman (photo: Brian Atkinson)


“The stoned young woman with the cobalt vein on her breast dances jerkily in the living room, blouse coming completely asunder, her skin taking in the air, the last button no longer intimate with eyelet, free. I assume Cobalt Girl is aware of her blouse and breasts out there like vivid menus, though who knows. Above her neck hovers her very own brain, choreographing her dance in conjunction with our music and shouting.”

Can there be any doubt that this passage sprang from the febrile mind of Mark Anthony Jarman, one of the mad geniuses of Canadian short fiction? Who else in the CanLit pantheon could have come up with the inspired comparison of “vivid menus” to describe Cobalt Girl’s anatomy, or the blouse button “no longer intimate” with its buttonhole? Who else would be able to pull off the casual alliteration in “coming completely asunder” without seeming hopelessly self-conscious? And the inspired adverb “jerkily”: pure Jarman.

The short excerpt is from “Knife Party,” one of a suite of new stories in Jarman’s forthcoming collection, Knife Party at the Hotel Europa (Goose Lane Editions). The author of the travelogue Ireland’s Eye, Jarman now turns his attention to Italy in a collection of overlapping stories involving thieves, holy statues, and embassy bombings.